SOMELO: Khoemacau Copper mining whose site lies about 35 kilometers from Somelo settlement is expected to start operations in July 2016.
The company’s Environment and Community Relations Superintendent Herbert Kebafetotse said they had hoped to start this year but had to completely change their plan to incorporate other things.
“Our plan is to mine the ore and take to BOSETO Copper Mine for processing. We will however make a few modifications here and there. I can confidently say we have a higher grade from Zone 5 as compared to what BOSETO was processing”, he said.
Speaking at a fun filled wellness day coupled with various activities amongst them ball sports and a series of medical tests performed by Maun based health professionals, Kebafetotse said they held the event because Somelo is closest to the mine site. He said they have decided as a collective to co-exist with its community so that they may benefit from having the mine in their locality.
He said residents are challenged in many aspects, and “so we want to be closest to them as much as we can so that we may offer a helping hand.”
“They don’t have access to a lot of services such as health care and water among other things. We have recently pressure-tested their pipe and it is at present fully operational. We will now start providing them with portable water on a daily basis,” said Kebafetotse.
Kebafetotse said Somelo is also faced with the challenge of too much consumption of illicit alcohol mostly by the youth.
Although there seems to be a lot of potential in them considering their age, he said it now becomes a problem when they start drinking at a young age. Up until parents take the education of their children seriously, teenage pregnancy and other issues including the continued habit of truancy and absconding by school going children will never be resolved, he said.
The settlement has only one primary school.
Makalamabedi Secondary School, which is the closest secondary school is a 100 kilometers away.
In a few weeks’ time, Kebafetotse said the coal mining company will hand over a P5000 cheque to the community which will be used during the Independence day celebrations. An additional P5000 will go towards the school prize giving ceremony as a way of motivating those who have performed well in their studies.
He said the idea for all these contributions and many others which will follow is for the community to understand that the mine is prepared to contribute meaningfully and to make them feel free and in a position to always seek assistance from the mine whenever they feel under pressure. He added that in addition to the assistance rendered to residents, the mine recently recruited more than fifty casual laborers.
For his part Somelo headman Mokhutshwane Komeng said although the assistance offered by the mine is visible and highly commendable, they feel robbed of their grazing lands. He said the remaining space is not sufficient for their livestock. He decried also that although there are no reported cases of child labor at Somelo farms, there had been news doing rounds that some farmers employ underage children, most of who always choose to leave school and make money instead.